One-woman roadshow

Erin Dewell

Photo by Vic Cantu

Many people are avid fans of TV’s Antiques Roadshow. Whether they find out that a family heirloom is worth a fortune or simply learn the history of a piece of art, the fun is in watching regular folks have their possessions assessed by a professional. Chico’s version of the show can be found in Erin Dewell. She has been a traveling antique and collectibles expert for decades, both independently and for Griffin Appraisal Services. She appears at homes, businesses and occasional “appraisal day” shows all over the West Coast, including Paradise’s Treasures From Paradise store, and monthly at the massive Antique Trove of Roseville. Taking over for her father, John Humphries, who died last year, Dewell expounds about collectibles every Saturday morning, 7-8 a.m. on AM 1290, KPAY. You can reach her at 231-6082.

How did you get so interested in antiques?

I grew up in an antique world since my parents owned a restoration company in Los Molinos. My first big purchase was at an antique store when I was 5. They had a mini version of my mother’s “bin table” for $800. My dad handed me a $100 bill and said if I could buy it with that I could have it. I told the owner, “I’ll give you $100 out the door,” and it worked! That started this amazing collecting, buying and selling bug in me. By my teens I was excited to be able to take care of my own expenses. I graduated from UC Davis in nutrition science, but by then I knew I would make antiques my career.

What’s the most expensive collectible you’ve appraised?

At a Southern California evaluation day [event], a man showed me a random rolled-up canvas his great grandfather got in World War II. When he unrolled it, my heart stopped. It was a lost Monet worth $1 million!

What do you like best about your job?

I can really make a difference in people’s lives by showing them how to care for their items or fix them up and resell them. I love the amazing people I meet at events or estate appraisals. I learn something new every day. It’s also great to travel throughout California and the West Coast.

What advice do you have for people who have too many collectibles?

You can display them seasonally like I do. That keeps things fresh. Just because you bought it doesn’t mean you have to show it now.

Is buying abandoned storage unit contents a good place to find collectibles?

They can be tough because they only roll up the door a couple of minutes before the auction, and you can’t touch anything or cross the door’s threshold.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’ve been training my 13-year-old son, Trenton, in collectibles almost his whole life. He’s often on the radio with me. And on Feb. 18, I’ll do the Butte County Sheriff’s Antique Show at the Silver Dollar Fair.